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Full text of "Alaskan glacier studies of the National Geographic Society in the Yakutat Bay, Prince William Sound and lower Copper River regions"

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CHAPTER XV THE GLACIERS OF UNAKWIK INLET AND COLLEGE FIORD
UNAKWIK INLET
General Topography. Unatwik Inlet is a large fiord west of Columbia Bay. It is about 20 miles long, trending north and south, and having an average width of about 2 miles. On the west side of it are Jonah Bay and Siwash Bay, and on the east is a large cove, at the head of which is Miner's River. About 2 miles from the head the inlet narrows to a half mile and turns at right angles nearly eastward. Here it is terminated by a large ice tongue, Meares Glacier, the only glacier in this fiord which reaches tidewater; but Brilliant Glacier, Ranney Glacier, and a number of smaller ice tongues are visible from the inlet and send streams down nearly to it.
Meares Glacier. This ice tongue (Fig. 37), which has a known length of about 6 miles, is made up of two smaller glaciers (PI. CXII, B) which unite a mile and three-quarters from the terminus. It is a clean white ice stream, severely crevassed throughout its visible extent, and carrying one rather-weak medial moraine, which comes from the junction of the two chief tributaries, and is pushed over so near the south side of the glacier that the north tributary is shown to be larger and more vigorous than that from the east. There is a strong lateral moraine on the north side but none on the south. At tidewater the glacier has a width of one mile, and a terminal cliff over 200 feet high, from which so many icebergs are discharged that, at the narrows in Unakwik Inlet it is usually difficult to force a boat through them. There are several very pretty cascading glaciers on the mountain slopes near Meares Glacier.
The first known description of Meares Glacier was made in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Fidalgo, who did not name the glacier, but on the chart of the Sutil y Mex-icana called Unakwik Inlet by the name Puerto de Revilla Gigedo. Don Francisco Eliza, the commander of this expedition, refers to the glacier as "Volcan de Fidalgo." Fidalgo's description of the region as he saw it on June 15, 1790, quoted by Davidson from a manuscript, is as follows:l
"So soon as they arrived at the mouth of a sheltered harbor, almost at the northernmost part of the bay, they observed the latitude to be 60 54', and heard many subterranean explosions or thunderings which increased as the sun approached the meridian. Conducted by their Indian guides to the interior of this harbor, they discov-" ered in its depths to the north, a great level tract of snow which came to the water's edge, and ended at the base of the high mountains. Hardly had they seen this, when they noticed that with each subterranean roar a mass of snow was thrown up from the center of the plain about half the size of the launch; fearful lest they should be
1 Davidson, George, The Glaciers of Alaska That are Shown on Russian Charts or Mentioned in Older Narratives.   Trans, and Proc. Geog. Soc., Pacific, Vol 3, 1904, pp. 82-88. 19                                                    289